Appeals court 18 Nov overturned convictions of three anti-slavery activists and reduced jail terms of ten others accused of rioting after forced eviction of ethnic Haratin, many of them former slaves, in Nouakchott.
On 3 August 2005, a junta led by Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, director-general of the Sûreté National, and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, commander of the presidential security battalion, seized power in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. The coup, which responded to the growing unpopularity and declining legitimacy of President Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya’s regime, signifies a break with the past but also reflects significant continuity in terms both of method and personalities.
Disregarded by the media and international community, Mauritania is nonetheless experiencing a period of increasing instability. Evidence abounds and includes failed military coups, creation of a rebel movement, Foursan Taghyir ("The Knights of Change"), discovery of weapons caches in Nouakchott, and the arrest of Islamist leaders.
The Sahel, a vast region bordering the Sahara Desert and including the countries of Mali, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, is increasingly referred to by the U.S. military as "the new front in the war on terrorism".
Originally published in Slate Afrique